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Alonso says he’s surprised by Singapore investigation
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Alonso says he’s surprised by Singapore investigation
Posted By: James Allen  |  10 Sep 2009   |  6:26 pm GMT  |  69 comments

Fernando Alonso spoke today at his usual Thursday afternoon press briefing about the investigation into the events of last year’s Singapore Grand Prix, which he won thanks to a safety car triggered by his team mate Nelson Piquet’s accident.

“I’m very surprised. I cannot imagine this situation, so as I said, I’m surprised, and it’s time to think in another job, in Monza and the next grand prix because I’m not spending any more time on this.”

He added: “I will not comment too much about this, as the team said we will not comment. For me it’s not even the time to think or to pay attention to this, because it’s difficult to understand for me all this situation and this investigation.”

Yesterday material was released to the media which suggested that a meeting took place before the race in which Piquet alleges that he was instructed to crash just after Alonso’s early pit stop, by Renault’s Pat Symonds and Flavio Briatore. The material released so far does not suggest that Alonso was present at the meeting or had knowledge of it.

Meanwhile in the Ferrari paddock club area this afternoon the Italian team announced a five year sponsorship deal with Spanish bank, Santander. This is a significant deal for Ferrari, whose arrangement with Philip Morris is due to end in two years time. President Luca di Montezemolo batted away questions about the Santander deal meaning that the arrival of Alonso at Maranello was imminent,

“We have two drivers, now three (a reference to Giancarlo Fisichella), plus also we are close to having Michael, so we have a lot of drivers – this is not a problem for us now,”

With Raikkonen and Massa signed to race contracts for next year, Raikkonen is waiting to see what Ferrari’s next move will be; either to retain him or buy out his remaining year and draft in Alonso for 2010.

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He didn't know ... sure !!! He run the stupidest strategy from the back of the grid, no questions. His strategy was changed, no questions. Piquet crashed on the exact lap he needed him to crash to win the race, no questions. Alonso is NOT that dumb. But I guess the FIA will cover for him, same as they did in 2007.

I just hope they never bring that guy to drive for the Scuderia.


I think you and all the people who have replied to your mail should take off their Lewis tinted shades for a moment and look at things a bit more carefully. Fernando's fuel load, and hence strategy, was determined at the weight announcements on Saturday night. If PKjr is to be believed, the crash scenario was set up on Sunday morning. So unless you're saying it was Alonso's idea, he's not in the loop. If it was a "Renault" strategy, they'd want to keep it under the most wraps possible - PK goes to some lengths in his "statement" (if it's genuine) to keep even his race engineer out of the loop.

It may be that FA worked it out with Flav and Symonds overnight. But you'll never prove it, and frankly, I can't imagine a driver - any driver - asking another to do that. You go ahead and believe it if you want. I don't.


Totally agree with your comments. I also don't believe him. It will be bad for Ferrari to take him aboard. Alonso has more than once proven that he acts in a machiavellian, short-sighted, short term and certainly immature way and is unable (or rather incapable) to understand the long term implications of his actions. He lucks political intelligence and his ego is above all. In a higly political environment as the Ferrari one is, this is a recipe for disaster.


I was appalled when it was announced that Kimi had got the Ferrari drive and will be appalled and baffled if Fernando is a Ferrari driver next year. I had hoped that the extension of Michael's contract was a sign that Alonso wasn't coming. Why would Michael want any input into the success of a petulant cry baby forever throwing his toys out of the pram?


FIA covered Alonso in 2007? What exactly was there to cover?

You are right on 1 thing, Alonso is NOT that dumb. Rest I disagree. And I hope Scuderia will not take Alonso, not for the sake of Ferrari but for the sake of Alonso.

About the Renault saga it's really hard to take a side, when everybody are saying different things. First I didn't believe it at all, now after reading Piquet testimony, I can almost see it happening. But it will be hard to prove it. Renault and Briatore's and Bob Bell reputation will get damaged real badly if it's really true.

And I really don't understand people like Piquet, I would not even think about doing something like that. In my mind he doesn't deserve the racing seat, wherever he would drive.

Let's see how this story ends.


A cynic might suggest that's precisely why they would cover him.


Well said.


I could not agree more... I am stunned how Alonso comes out aces from everything in F1....

A 2x WDC goes to 15th on the grid and does not think coming in on lap 12 is odd?! Flav, Jr and Symonds knew but not Alonso? How dumb does F1 expect us to be....

Alonso should have to go to Campos or USF1 next year to earn his way back up the grid


Actually, they claimed that Alonso was heard on the radio to be furious that he had to stop so early.

So either he really didn't know up front or they planned that discussion also.



are Ferrari ending their association with Marlboro in two years time?

Does this mean that we will no longer have to convert our die cast models to tobacco-spec?


I don't understand why we keep having to read stories about Alonso moving to Ferrari when everyone involved in the story continuously deny that there's a story? I would be thrilled to see Fernando in a Ferrari but I'm tired of hearing things like 'the story in the paddock...' or 'speculation is...' without any real evidence to back it up. I'm not coming down on you (James) specifically, as I tend to read your articles more than most because I find you usually do not spread the rumors that the rest do. I believe this story because YOU wrote it and I believe that you must have information that we don't because you wouldn't write it if you didn't. After all this banter I guess I'm just asking for the proof James, please give us the proof that I know you have!!!


Can't do that. I have it from very good sources, that's all I can say. That's how journalism works, you learn who you can trust.


Alonso in Ferrari is too big news, too much money.

absolutely no way alonso will be charged whatsoever. period.



what could alonso be charged with - it was Piquet that crashed the car - his career is over...

I'm so surprised that hardly any people are giving Piquet stick over this - he's the one that deserves it.


I wonder how many believe that *if* Piquet crashed deliberately, Alonso had no knowledge of it beforehand?


I've said this previously, but IF it happened, and Alonso did not know before, it is inconceivable IMO that he remained unaware after the event.

I can't believe that the entire team were not speculating about the reason for the crash and someone will have known the truth (if that's what it was ) and that will have reached Alonso.


As that other famous Renault said:

"Shocked! Shocked!"



sums it up a bit doesnt it!


He knew it, he accepted it and he drove for it. To tell us otherwise is to play us for fools.

This whole affair stinks!

Alonso is good enough to win without cheating! Ferrari have been warned.


Does McLaren have a replacement for Santander already?


James, could you give us some details on the 'arrangement' Ferrari have with Phillip Morris AKA Marlboro?


You are not allowed any tobacco branding or logos on the cars, but I understand that Philip Morris do it the other way around and have the cars on the packets. Plus the Marlboro logos were on the cars for so long, they continue to have that assocition in people's minds with the car's colour and the bar code imagery


Historically, McLaren surely have the closer association - everyone remembers the red and white cars. Do you think this association might return?


McLaren 2007, Renault 2008 - is there still time for Alonso to be involved in yet another dodgy deal and make it a hat-trick? Good think he "knew nothing about it", just like his McLaren days. Oh... hang on...


HA.. I love it... you're right... this guy kills teams and gets what he wants always. The funny thing is most of the chat rooms I am in Alonso is rarely a fan favorite. It's almost alwasy Hmailton and Raikkonen way before Alonso.



Can you confirm that Ferrari breached the gentlemens agreement reached on 11th September 2001 (that fateful day...) that had all the F1 teams agreeing to remove tobacco sponsorship from their teams. In all the chaos that ensured that day very little was reported (understandably) of Ferrari's failure to comply. This piece of F1 history should be understood properly. I'm sure you will know all the details.


I'll look into it. I tend to focus on racing, rather than tobacco


Thanks James. I agree! Can be difficult to focus on racing though when you are walking through the paddock with your 8-year old daughter and are offered the 'sticks from every angle from representatives of the red camp! 'Smoke' and mirrors......

On a positive note great to see an end to this 'unhealthy' relationship.


I am not surprised Alonso is "surprised"

This is because the 'crash-gate' story is either false


Alonso does not want his name tarnished by it

Basically he has no choice but to distance himself regardless of the truth. He must protect brand Alonso


I find it very strange that a driver as "complete" as Alonso would agree to such a fuel strategy without asking questions. He's taken aggresive fuel-strategy before - but not from 15 on the grid!


After saying what he said, i also heard that Fernando was very "surprised" to hear the pope was catholic.....


Yeah Right! And as my mother-in law often states "well I'll be a monkey's uncle!"


One thing is clear already, Alonso is a Spanish Schumacher...


"Plus also we are close to having Micheal"

Is this a reference to third cars? Are they going to get them?


McLaren doesn't want either. Can't see any team besides Ferrari which would think that 3 cars per team is a good idea.


Not if Frank Williams has anything to do with it. Depends on whether the three new teams make it


Followup question James... Why do you think Williams rejoined FOTA; what concessions could have been made to them to have them "inside the tent p**g outwards" rather than the other way round?

Or did WIlliams gain a real advantage by signing early, outside FOTA with Bernie?


They signed with Bernie back in 2005 and this time around said that that agreement was legally binding so they had no choice but to enter the championship without FOTA. They have rejoined because they should be in there and FOTA is stronger with them there. The lesson of 2009 is that the teams can achieve a lot if they stick together.


Seems to me Frank is the new Ron Dennis. Standing in the way of new ideas and reform in F1.

My view doesn't represent any agreement/disagreement with him, just an observation.

James, has Frank always been shoulder to shoulder with Ron in this realm?


They have similar views on the sport, but all these guys are tough when defending their interests


I hope Alonso stays at Renault. Kimi to race for ferrari and win the 2010 championship!


I suspect that the purpose of staging the crash and give Alonso and advantage was to convince him to sign with Renault for 2009. He was unhappy with the team’s performance and was reportedly talking to other teams – the only way for Renault to keep him was to show Alonso that they could build a race-winning car.

If that’s the case, then they would’ve wanted to keep Alonso in the dark.

Just as we’ve discussed Piquet Jr.’s motivation for doing such a thing, we should look at what everyone else had to gain. We’ve seen in F1 through the years that people cheat when it’s important enough, but a win for Alonso doesn’t seem all that important. For the team though, it would’ve meant keeping one of the top drivers and all the sponsors and PR that accompanies that. It’s possible that Renault (the car company) and the team’s other major sponsors were pressuring Symonds and Briatore with pulling out if they had a losing season AND lost Alonso with little chance of attracting an established top-level driver.

I’m not going to say that I couldn’t see Alonso cheating that way… but not when he didn’t have a shot at the championship.


The Fernando/Ferrari rumours have been going on forever. I really hope the move matures and we do see FA in a Ferrari. But 2 things, as of date, are confounding:

1. Both Kimi and Massa are under contracts for 2010. Ferrari have never openly said that are looking to replace Kimi. Massa is confirmed as their 2010 driver.

2. Ferrari are pushing for a 3rd car and Michael Schumacher is interested in making a comeback as per President Montezemolo.

If two cars are run, then we have Kimi and Massa and if the 3rd car is allowed, then it is presumed that MS will be in it.

When they have 3 top drivers in contention for 3 seats at Ferrari, how does one expect them to manage Alonso's arrival?

Buying out Kimi's contract doesn't make sense:

1. It will leave a big hole in their budget.

2. Kimi is a class driver anyway. He won the race at Spa when the car had no business being at the front of the pack.

Letting go of the services of great driver and that too after incurring a contract penalty/pay off: Doesn't make sense, or does it?

The only question is what benefit do Ferrari think Alonso's arrival will carry that Kimi's presence is already not making-up for.


I agree with most of the things you have said. It does not make sence for them to get rid of Kimi. However I'm a big Ferrari fan but most of all I've been a big Kimi fan from day one and I for one would love to see him back at Mclaren. it's where he belongs. I was over the moon when he was announced at ferrari but he has just never looked as comfortable throwing that Ferrari around, he also suited the silver overalls better.


There will be no dearth of drives for Kimi. Apart from Red Bull, who have a secured driver line-up already and will be a top team next year, Kimi can land a drive anywhere. I have always liked Kimi for his purist attitude towards the sport. He is not in the least interested in the politics of it. He is there to race and win. He is there to help the team forwards with the car and to win championships.Rest of the attendant complexities of the sport are nothing but unwanted burden for him.

Kimi and McLaren surely will make a super combination again, but I am sure Lewis will worry at the thought of partnering Kimi. Contrary to what statistics of the past (being paired with Alonso and matching him etc.) might incline one to presume, Lewis will not like a driver of Kimi's calibre in the other half of the garage.

Secondly, Mercedes are bent upon having a German driver associated with them for marketing reasons. They already have a German - Sutil - running their engine. But I guess they are looking for someone more high-profile & visible to bolster their marketing initiatives and that too in a team which they have been associated with for almost 15 years in succession. This could be a sticking point and prevent the deal from culminating between Kimi and McLaren (if at all such a situation arose in the first place).


Personally, I think the MS spiel by LDM is rubbish. I think that they're looking to get 3 cars so they can run Alonso, Raikkonen and Massa. Why use Schumi's name? Well, he is on the payroll, nearly subbed this year (and so is a credible name to use) and it keeps the Alonso deal under-wraps while still allowing them to push for 3 cars.

If they get 3 cars - great, they'll keep all 3 drivers. If not, then they'll have to buy out Kimi.

I was hoping to find out about this this weekend, but it looks to me like we'll have to keep waiting.


Hard question to answer and a little off-topic, but I thought Renault were to introduce a major front-wing upgrade for this round or the next based on reports back at Hungary/Valencia.

But Fernando Alonso says the team has stopped working on this year's car as of a couple of races ago?



I tried to tell you on your twitter page, but in Phillip Morris' most recent Securities and Exchange report, it says that they have a deal until 2014. "The sponsorship agreement with Ferrari dates back to 1984, well before Mr. Marchionne became CEO of Fiat in 2004, and extends until 2014"

Here is a link to the report, scroll down to between page 9 and 10.



Piquet Jr.'s sworn testimony, leaked today, is unequivocal in its indictment of the Team. If true, Formula One will have to act. Lifetime bans are in order, possibly including Alonso. I would like to be a fly on the wall of a Ferrari boardroom tonight where the higher-ups must be discussing that murky, litigious scenario. Friday should prove interesting.


Lifetime bans are indeed in order, but not for Alonso. I see him as completely clean in this.

As has been stated elsewhere in these comments, I think the Renault team could have had a couple of reasons for doing this (if they did).

1. To get the Renault board off their back and keep their entry for 09.

2. To keep Alonso at least thinking about staying at Renault for 09.

As such, I think they would have wanted to keep it a secret from Alonso.


“Plus also we are close to having Micheal”

Does this mean Michael can still get fit for F1 racing?(Apart from availability of places)


Alonso is surprised. lol.

He's more & more like Schumy...destined to be at Ferrari like you said James in 2010.


Mr. Allen,

I do read your articles with great interest, here as well as on ITV. I always look forward to your Qualifying Star and Race Verdict write-ups.

Are you 100% sure Kimi won't be in Ferrari come 2010?. If yes, do you have insider information as to what all teams are the Robertsons talking to?. Or will he go off to WRC?



Does Flavio still manage Alonso?

If so, I can totally see him making sure that Alonso had no knowledge of what was going on, so as to protect his client (aka his cash cow)...

Alonso may have questioned it, but it could have been sold to him on the basis of gambling on an all or nothing approach or playing it safe for probably little (if any) points. Alonso's a racer, given the choice between those 2 options, I'm certain he'd take the gamble.


He said recently that he still does


Alonso has run some very aggressive and frankly unusual fuel choices this season hoping to make something happen ...

... are people trying to suggest that every unusual fuel choice has been accompanied by a plan for Piqqy to crash?


"We are close to having Michael"?

Are close?

Michael "is" coming back?


Well, when he had his press statement when he said he wasn't going to race in place of massa, for me the key bit was when he said "That is why my neck cannot stand the extreme stresses caused by F1 yet." - note the word 'yet', to me that was indicative that he was not just giving up and would keep training til he could race if needed.


Dear Mr. Allen, I enjoy you analysis and read them with interest and I know that the Renault-gate is crucial. Yet I am appalled that all F1 sites, yours including, focus only in the politics and scandals in F1 when we are approaching a terrific GP race on the fastest track in the calendar, after six races with six different winners from four different teams. To be this is sick. The focus in F1 should be on the racing, always.

Especially when Monza is forthcoming...


I agree that the racing is the key, but this is a huge story and one that the majority of my readers are interested in judging from traffic numbers and the volume of comments


Does not say much for Piquet's integrity. Does he not have the balls to say NO when asked to do something illegal? What if Flav handed him a gun and told him to shoot all the competitors thereby securing a win? Surely then he would have said NO (I hope). The only guilty party here is Piquet himself.


If Alonso, Symonds or Flav have anything to do with fixing I hope they are banned from the sport!

If Piquet is lying then I wish the same on him.

I hope a full investigation is held and it becomes clear.


Hey James

Come to think of it, I just wander if Piquet's behaviour during the Sunday race up to the moment of his crash i.e. by asking “what lap I am on?”, and, even more importantly, his weird spin at the same place on the warm-up lap does not tell us something. Which burglar would do a dry run before his well planned jewellery's shop robbery, by practising the glass braking moves in front of shop owner's window or nervously moving about the jeweller's shop, asking his mates via mobile phone “what time is it, guys” ? It only could be the victim of some conspiracy plot, who was forced to commit a crime and by doing so wants to leave the evidence of his innocence, or the pro burglar who wants to be caught, in order to con his superiors. Now, as we cannot really talk here about anybody's innocence here, I leaning towards the second option. The question for me really is, whether both - Piquet Junior and Senior, decided to act like this after the plot was presented to Junior during this pre-race meeting or the whole idea was theirs? Whatever origin, the possible reason for whole wrong doing seems to be to have an ace up their sleeve to blackmail the team, gaining another season of racing. I am not trying to defend Renault here. Both sides are clearly guilty to some extend.

Just as I am writing it, there is a breaking news on Official Formula One website about Renault's legal action against Nelson Piquet (http://www.formula1.com/news/headlines/2009/9/9903.html)!

Was I right or is it just reasonable way of defending themselves?


I have a hard time agreeing with posters here that Alonso must have known because of the low fuel strategy.

Earlier this year Hamilton ran a very similar strategy in Australia. Starting from 18th he was fueled very light and had to stop on lap 11. Later he finished on the podium 3rd.

He was later stripped of this result because of the liegate incident... yet the strategy itself worked.

Australia has even less chance of a SC then a full street course such as in Singapore.

In addition a believe that another race this year, Hamilton tried the same type of strategy... and failed completely ... but nonetheless it was tried.

So please don't equate Alonso's strategy with "knowing" what Flavio and Piquet were up to.


maybe macca trying to 'hurt' alonso?


I can easily believe that Alonso does not want to be associated with the Piquet allegations.

I can also easily understand why he refuses to answer questions about the Piquet allegations.

It's far more difficult to understand why he is surprised by the investigation.

Doesn't he understand what race-fixing is?

Doesn't he understand the possibility of injury to marshals, other drivers?

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